Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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The American Girl.
    In a recent issue of a popular monthly magazine,
some American mother writes with feeling
which is tinged with bitterness regarding the mod-
ern girl and what she has lost by her education and
her semi-publicity.
    The writer claims that the American girl has lost
repose, health, and the useful qualities which bring
happiness in the quiet paths of life.
    She is compared to her grandmother disparag-
ingly.  She is unbecomingly contrasted with the
French and English girls of the day.
    I must confess I take issue with this "American
    While there are  many things which can be criti-
cised in the modern method of education of young
girls, we must remember that without doubt the
same sort of despairing comments were made about
their grandmothers forty or fifty years ago.
    The world is always changing, and customs and
manners and ideas of education change with modes
of hats and gowns as time passes.
    No doubt our grandmothers were told, when
they were girls, that their grandmothers lived a
much more healthful and normal life, dressed in a
more becoming manner, and behaved with greater
modesty.  In every generation there is always the
pessimist looking backward and sighing over the
departed virtues of ancestors.
    Meantime the world wags on, and every century
produces its splendid men and women and its weak-
lings and degenerates, its robust people and its
invalids, and its geniuses and its imbeciles.
    I do not believe the American girl of to-day is
less robust than her grandmother.
    I believe we have a far greater average of well
women than we had fifty years ago.
    The heroine of the old-time world was always a
fragile being, who fainted while you waited.
    The modern author depicts a virile and athletic
leading lady for his role.
    Authors reflect the coloring of the time in which
they live.
    It seems true that American girls lack repose.
    American people of all ages and both sexes lack
    We are all too restless, too ambitious for sudden
success, too eager for change and excitement.
    Until parents acquire repose they cannot expect
it of their children.
    That the American girl lives in an atmosphere of
semi-publicity, and that she accepts as a matter of
course, the curious gaze of the public wherever she
goes, and whatever she does, is also true.
    But the public and its curiosity are no more to
her than were the church circle and its gossip and
meddlesomeness to her grandmother.
    The world is larger, and life is built on wider lines
than it was a hundred years, or fifty years ago, for
the American woman.
    What does it matter to a well-behaved and sensi-
ble young woman, whether a score of people in her
neighborhood or a thousand elsewhere take a pass-
ing interest in her debut or her social doings or her
    If it is claimed that the modern girl clamors for
the interest and attention of this thousand, who can
say that her grandmother disapproved of the fact
that twenty pairs of eyes were watching her doings?
    Womanhood does not undergo great changes as
time rolls on.  Its essential characteristics remain
the same.  Such changes as take place are ulti-
mately for the better in the long run.
    The American girl will come out quite as well as
her grandmother did.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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